Proposed Arcata Health Center will likely cause increase in traffic

Sidewalks, bus stops part of mitigation plan

The site plan for the proposed Arcata Community Health Center being proposed by Open Door Community Health Centers west of the Foster and Sunset avenues intersection. The draft environmental impact report study for the health center is available for the public to review until Jan. 13. (Screenshot)
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The most significant impact for building a new health center in Arcata will be traffic.

The draft environmental impact report for the Arcata Community Health Center being proposed by the Open Door Community Health Centers states that a couple of small wetlands will be impacted in the short-term during construction and traffic will be impacted in the long-term.

The draft environmental impact report was presented to the Arcata Planning Commission on Wednesday by city staff who were looking for direction, but the commissioners said they were satisfied with the mitigation measures and didn’t have much more to add.

“It’s a great draft (environmental impact report),” said Planning Commission Chair Daniel Tangney. “It’s a good read. It looks thorough. The mitigation is wonderful. … I’m super enthused about the project, I think we all are.”

The project will involve permanently filling in the two small wetlands on the site with plans to create off-site wetlands at Shay Park to mitigate their loss at a 2:1 ratio, according to the environmental impact report.

The health center, along with a few residential development projects being proposed in the area, might have a significant impact on traffic in the city, said Joe Mateer, senior planner with Arcata.

“The main impact would be transportation by the single-occupancy vehicles,” Mateer said. “Those are one of the things we really want to do a paradigm shift and correct throughout the world.”

The project incorporates mitigation measures that incorporate other forms of transportation, such as walking and using public transportation by constructing sidewalks around the project and bus stops nearby.

The city of Arcata hasn’t adopted a formal traffic mitigation program, so the city would enter into a development agreement “to establish, collect, and disburse proportional traffic mitigation fees for future traffic improvements,” according to the environmental impact report.

The Arcata Community Health Center will consolidate and replace the services being provided at the Humboldt Open Door Clinic and North Country Clinic, both in Arcata, which would require significant upgrades to be modernized.

“Neither building was originally designed to function as a medical health center and both are suffering from deteriorating infrastructure,” according to the environmental impact report.

The draft environmental impact report is part of the California Environmental Quality Act process required of projects to address any environmental impacts the project may pose. The public has until Jan. 13 to comment on the draft environmental impact report for the community health center, after which those comments will be addressed in the final environmental impact report.

The report is available for review at the City of Arcata Community Development Department at 736 F St. in Arcata, the Arcata Library, the Humboldt State University Library and online at https://www.cityofarcata.org/860/Open-Door.

Comments can be sent to by mail to Joe Mateer, senior planner, City of Arcata Community Development Department, 736 F St., Arcata, CA 95521. Comments can also be submitted to Mateer by phone at 707-825-2139 or email at jmateer@cityofarcata.org.

The finalized draft environmental impact report is expected to come before the Planning Commission for approval on Jan. 28 before heading to the Arcata City Council.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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